Oregon Coast Trail: Days 1 – 5

I feel like such a stereotype right now blogging in an independent coffee shop.  But the coffee is good and being cooped up in a hotel room sucks.  

Day 1

After being dropped off at a hiker/hiker campsite by my brother and mom, my dad and I set up camp and crashed with zero miles hiked.  It was late and we’d both gotten little sleep.  My dad was up all night getting his gear together last minute, I was up all night getting my maps in order last minute.  Go Team Procrastination!  

My dad expressed little interest in hiking up two miles north to reach the start of the trail, so I set out early alone to do the 4 mile roundtrip hike to the northern end of Oregon, then hike back to the campsite to meet up with my dad and start our southbound trek.

All we quiet in the early morning hours.  The beach was pretty well empty, the tide had receeded a fair ways providing nice concrete-hard sand to trek on.  It was very peaceful, the nice open air felt incredible after being stuck in the stuffy forests of the Appalachian Trail.  I hiked on watching the waves crash onto the shore, listening to all the seaguls holler, smelling the nice ocean breeze.  I like this, oh hell yes I do.

I walked for about an hour before hitting the end of the beach, looking out at an ever-espansive jetty.  I could see the ‘official’ start of the trail above me, but there were no trails over the large rock wall.  I could climb up, but I’d be crushing all the aquatic life growing on the rocks in the process.  I walked up the beach a ways and looked for an access trail to meet up with the road so I could get to the starting line bit had no such luck.  If I wanted to start where everyone else did, if have to walk half a mile south to the last access trail I saw, hike the half mile back up to the starting line, then return the half mile back.  My dad wanted to have plenty of time today to figure out his hiking style, and we were trying to get to Seaside today.  I opted to call my spot as good as any to start the hike, I was really only missing .1 or .2 miles, no big deal.

As I hiked south towards our campsite my foot started to ache on the outside area of my arch, and it quickly got worse.  I knew this feeling from the PCT: I’m developing tendonitis.  Already.  Just 3 miles in and I’m already having some kind of problem.  Cool.  It’s not a Jackrabbit hike if I don’t kick it off without an aliment.  I chuckled and continued on, trying to walk barefoot for a bit thinking my sandals were the problem.  They definitely were, but barefoot walking only agonized it.  I’m gonna need new shoes.  These sandals were great, but they’re pretty old and worn down now.  RIP my Tevas.

I passed a rusty pile of metal sitting on the shire that was once a ship, and went back to the campground to go get my dad.  We both packed up our stuff and hit the trail.  The beach was crazy crowded with all the people out and about for the labor day weekend.  The weather was perfect: the sun was hot but the breeze was nice and cool.  The northern coast was a good choice for a weekend getaway for sure.

My dad and I made a good pair: me limping along, him figuring out how his body responds to long hikes.  He was doing great, but me not so much.  I had to run out to the ocean to soak my foot in the cold ocean water pretty frequently to allieve some of the pain.  I will say some of my dad’s pain is due to him brining so much unnecessary stuff which I’ve been trying hard to not be so snobby about.  It’s his first thry-hike, he’ll figure out on his own what he needs/doesn’t need without me being an ass about it.  He’s already gotten rid of some stuff as of my writing this.

We took a lunch break at our halfway point for the day and it became clear to us that we weren’t going to make it to Seaside today, which caused some amount of stress considering camping on this trail is a bit of a logistical issue.  You can’t camp on the beach and the amount of camping that does exist is sparse.  Fortunately phone service exists, and we found a campground in the town of Gearhart just outside of Seaside.  We got off the beach earlier than necessary to hit highway 101, weaving through a residential area and then onto the noisy highway.  I’d hiked 18 miles for the day, most of which on a bad foot.  My dad hiked 15 miles, more than he’d done in quite a while.

We were both elated to arrive at our stop for the day: Buds RV Park and Campground, but we weren’t crazy about the $36 a night fee.  Still cheaper than a hotel room though, and they had showers, a store, laundry, etc.  After setting up camp I ran into the store and picked up a coupe of bbq sandwiches from the store which we both happily devoured.  Once the sun went down we crawled into our tents and crashed.

Day 2

When I woke up it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to be hiking today, at least not making big miles.  My foot was stuff and in quite a bit of pain.  I could barely walk on it.  My dad was also experiencing a bit of pain in the way if sore muscles.  He could barely stand up.  We resolved to just get to Seaside and hole up in a hotel room so we could both recover.  It was only 3.5 miles away which seemed reasonable enough to walk.  We picked up and left the campground and made our way down the 101.

Road walking is just a reality if the Oregon Coast Trail.  A lot of people don’t care for it, but I myself kind if enjoy it.  Especially in this trail because you get to see the neat coastal towns.  Though it can be slightly unnerving to walk next to zooming traffic, people hike down the 101 all the time so drivers are more aware of pedestrians than they would be on any other road walk.  Most of the time drivers will switch lanes to leave you plenty of walking space.

After 30 minutes or so, my dad and I came upon our first Oregon Coast Trail marker which brought on a weird glee, as if saying to me “yes you’re walking in an established route, sorry about the road walk”.  Shortly After, another one popped up before a little bridge going over a small river.  Despite not being able to walk normally I quite enjoyed the short jaunt to Seaside.  

Once we were within the city limits we re-routed through a neighborhood to get away from the highway and have actual sidewalk to walk on.  My dad was starting to fall behind and he urged me to just hike on alone so I could go my own pace, my own broken pace.  I got to the hotel and sat outside the front lobby for a while until he showed up.  He later arrived, got our room key, and we crawled into the room experiencing our own trail pains.

Days 3-5

We’re still in Seaside.  My stupid foot is taking it’s sweet ass time to heal, but tendonitis is a pretty stubborn injury.  I’ve been doing all the things to urge it to heal: painful ice baths, compression, copious amounts of anti-inflammatories, and of course elevation.  I haven’t found compression to be particularly helpful, in fact it kind of made it worse by causing my tendon to become all creaky.  I stayed in bed for the first couple of days, keeping it elevated which has helped the most.

Today my dad and I went out to a gear store so I could get new shoes, which has been the biggest help so far.  A pair of blue Merrel Moabs was exactly what my feet needed.  I walked around the gear store and my foot felt almost immediate relief.  Still some pain, but I can actually walk.  I wasn’t quite as dramatic about this injury ad I was on the PCT a la “Oh god my hike is over!”, but I was still a bit concerned that I might have to end it here.  

We stayed at the store for a while and talked with the owner for a bit.  He was really nice and helpful, I was so happy that Seaside had a gear store.  I might have been screwed otherwise.  We got a bit of info on the trail ahead of us, left, and stopped at a coffee shop on the way where I got probably the best iced coffee of my life.

So we’re back in the hotel room now.  We’ve got one more zero ahead of us so we can both give our bodies one more day to recuperate before pushing on.  Seaside is probably my favorite trail town so far.  It’s a bit touristy sure, but it’s incredibly awesome.  I came here with my family when I was still in high school and loved it then, it’s every bit as great as i remember it being.  Cannon Beach might out-do it though, that place is crazy cool.  I can’t wait to continue on, this trail may not be a typical thru-hike, but so far it’s been incredibly awesome.  It would definitely make a great first thru-hike for beginners.

I’m working on a trail guide as I walk.  Bonnie Henderson has made a good guide-book for hiking the OCT but it’s annoying to navigate and it’s not thru-hiker centric.  My guide will just be a gpx file with waypoints for campsites and other helpful places for thru-hikers, and of course a track to use for navigation.  I felt some apprehension about hiking this trail because it’s incomplete, but it’s been wonderful so far and id love to make it seem more accessible to people experiencing that same apprehension.

Have I mentioned how cool Seaside is?

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